Did you like the experience?
The experience begins with the presentation of application scenarios (use cases) that users need in order to achieve certain goals with a computer program. Filling out a form is something people usually know in paper form with a pen. The interaction is learned and practiced. Very few people find it difficult. With a computer, users face different challenges. Digital interactions depend on other factors, such as the format of the output medium, the brightness of the screen, or the Internet connection.
User experience goes beyond look and feel. It also takes into account the factors of tonality, usability and performance. In addition, user experience also takes into account cultural and socio-political as well as legal requirements. The topic of sustainability and an ecological balance have also played a greater role in product development in recent years. The design of experiences does not know a final result, it continuously evolves with its dependency factors. The focus is always on the end user. For whom is this product ultimately being designed? In order to be able to clarify this question in advance, user experience designers develop mindmaps for the selected personas. In the discovery phase, the focus is primarily on getting to know the target group. Emphatically, product developers put themselves in the role of these people, try to think like them and feel like they perceive interactive challenges.
Look & Feel
An appealing and pleasant design ensures that the user enjoys spending time with an application. It is important to note that look and feel form a unity. If the user is constantly interrupted in his interactions by error messages, an image is associated that makes the respective application experience appear unpleasant. A nicely designed interface does not distract from such negative impressions, on the contrary the appearance suffers sustainably and is perceived as less appealing. The picture that emerges is - More appearance than reality. A computer program can be compared well with the construction of a house. The foundation must be the right one, otherwise the house will collapse sooner or later, burying all its contents under construction debris. If a visitor experiences such a worst-case scenario, he or she may avoid nice-looking houses in the future because of a lack of confidence in the architecture and building substance of the house. The good feeling therefore has a very high priority in product development. The product and its functions must be reliable. Nothing must crash or content be removed without being asked.
A computer program must communicate with the user and remain in dialog. The language offer is fundamentally important, but the tonality is much more decisive. Depending on the target group, the respective address as well as the way of communication is important. The Sinus Institute has developed a classification of social strata by means of the Sinus Milieu Model. From highly economic to low income, personas can be classified and assigned a certain language style, which can provide information about the use within an application. If the application is a database of economic facts, then a clear and unambiguous language style should be used. On the other hand, a platform that offers games and puzzles for children and teenagers may be much more colloquial and playful. However, clarity and transparency should always play a role in the digital experience, especially when it comes to ensuring users' privacy and the security of their data.
The application experience is very much dependent on the output media used. A large desktop screen allows a computer program to be displayed over a large area and in high resolution. A much larger range of functions can also play a role here. In desktop applications, the user sits at a desk in front of the computer screen and enters commands via keyboard and mouse. Many devices can also be operated via voice commands. A small smartphone offers the user a much more limited field of view, and operability using touch and swipe motions also turns out to be more difficult, as users could accidentally touch other interactive areas. Readability of content is also a challenge; different audiences have different reading habits and visual acuities. Perceptions of visual content, such as image galleries, information graphics, or advertising banners, vary from individual to individual and should be tested at regular intervals. One form of user testing is A/B testing, in which version A is offered to one group of users and version B to another. Based on eye-tracking and the recording of click moments as well as the individual dwell time within an application, user experience designers can identify which version is more accepted by a user group. In general, tendencies for improvement can be observed. The area of user experience also deals with the topic of accessibility for users with application limitations. What happens to the product when user X calls up the content via voice control?
Of course, the performance of an application is crucial for a successful user experience. If the user has to wait minutes for content to load, the bounce rate is higher. User experience designers and developers therefore consider in advance which areas could already be loaded in the background. Designers need to prepare content so that it can also load quickly enough on a slow Internet connection. Systems should never be overloaded if the user executes several interactions in quick succession, thus triggering several processes. If delays do occur, then the system should keep the user informed of what he or she should wait for. The rule is - the more stable an application runs, the higher the level of trust in the product. Mobile data is now very fast and becoming cheaper, so multiple devices can be connected to the Internet at the same time and they can also communicate with each other. Nevertheless, these conditions do not yet prevail in all parts of the world, which is why digital application experiences should always be developed with the idea of making content as reduced and streamlined as possible.
The design of digital applications is not only focused on the obvious areas. In the background, the technical processes must also be designed and efficiently planned. In addition, developments are always aimed at how users feel, every experience is thought through and worst-case scenarios are examined in advance. The range of users should feel picked up at all times and be able to develop habits independently. The user's journey begins in his or her everyday life.